Artist Profile: Laurie Sims

In the community of fiber artists (that’s all of US!), there are some very generous people who are always willing to walk the extra mile to cheer you on, teach you something new on the fly (look for her on the porch), and help you with those rough patches when you think there is NO way you can possibly figure out how to do x, y, or z. Laurie Sims is just that kind of person! She’s well-known at Fiber College whether hosting at the demonstration tent, sitting with a new friend on the porch, helping at special evening events, or teaching a class. This year, Laurie will teach a two-hour class, Beaded Bruges Bracelet, on Saturday, September 9 from 2-4 PM. Let’s visit with Laurie and then you can sign up for her class here 

For 2017, the theme for Fiber College is Re-Use, Re-Design, Re-Create.  How do you incorporate any part of this theme into an important part of your life?

I have clearly inherited the Re-Use gene and learned its charms from an early age; walking on my great grandmother’s rug she crocheted of fabric scraps and sleeping under the quilt my grandmother made of some of the same scraps; snuggling in Grandma Elsie’s Afghan of many yarns, some squares ringed in black or many shades of brown, or stitched with multi colored strands of recycled sock yarn; wearing restyled clothes of fabric Mom couldn’t resist as she sorted at the church rummage sales; and using the furniture and toys Dad made with wood shipping pallets and crates. I still haunt the thrift shops (and often my own attic) for most of my clothing and many of my fiber supplies.  I just can’t help it.  It’s in my genes!

For Laurie, re-using is in her genes!

Aside from your class, what is your favorite thing about FC? What do you think new attendees just shouldn’t miss?

Most important to me is something no one can possibly miss — The smiles!  They are infectious.

You’ll sure see Laurie’s big smile throughout Fiber College!

Reusing materials can be great fun, exciting, or perhaps frustrating. How/What have you re-used as an artist? 

Brightly colored rayon skirts and all cotton flannel sheets for crochet rugs.  The skirt from that dress and a free t-shirt for a dancing dress.  Old linens, doilies and embroideries. Stains or rips are not problems, they are challenges.

Laurie loves to wear what she’s made.

What’s the best piece of advice a mentor has ever given to you?

Oh my there are so many.  Here are just a few…

Relax and have fun with it.

If you’re not feeling it, walk away and come back to it later.

A magnificent coat by Laurie Sims!

Tell us about a time that you developed an exciting idea for your fiber art; where did the idea come from?  What inspired you?

One current project is making rainproof sidewalls for my camping shelter.  I’ve been using plastic tarps but they are so noisy and never are the right size.   Then one day in an art magazine there was an article about a Korean scrap piecing method called Bojagi.  Made mostly with blocks and strips, and using French seams so no backing is necessary, they are traditionally used to wrap objects for storage or to keep flies and dust off food.  The clean lines and utilitarianism struck a chord with me.  A torn raincoat that had never really fit anyway was the next spark.  Why not make Bojagi walls using coated nylon raincoats?  I’m challenging myself to have at least one side done by Fiber College so you can all come by and check it out.

Samples of Laurie’s Beaded Bruge Bracelets that she’ll teach this year at Fiber College.

If you could re-design your life as a fiber artist, what would that look like?

Though life right now is pretty darn good, the next step would be to live in an artists’ community in a studio with big windows and lots of space surrounded by creative people exuding creative energy.  I want to share ideas and share chores so we all have more time to create beautiful things.  Hey!  Isn’t that what Fiber college is all about?

Laurie looks for opportunities to collaborate with other fiber artists.

What or who has had the greatest impact on your work as an artist?

I would have to say the “what” is Maine and the “who” are the amazing creative friends here who have accepted and encouraged me.  I came here after escaping from a corporate job that had become dull, stressful, and tedious.  Oh, there were the occasional creative bursts, some interior decorating or scarves made for gifts, but most evenings were TV and bed.  The graphics job I hoped for never materialized, but instead, surrounded by the ocean’s tidal energy and many talented fiber artists, my personal creativity found inspiration and room to grow.

Laurie has great fiber-y fun wherever she goes!

How does your art recreate YOU? What does that feel like?

It truly just feels like me.  The food I eat, the clothes I wear, the entertainment I enjoy, and the company I keep.  My life is lived with creative intention so each moment I am recreating myself with the goal of bringing more beauty and art into myself.

Detail of Laurie’s coat

What’s the most important thing that you want potential students to know about you?

We all learn in different ways so I try to teach to individual styles.  It is also important to me to share with my students not just how something is done, but why.  Why is this tool shaped this way?  Why do we do this before that?

Be sure to look for Laurie around the Fiber College campus this year. She’s even willing to review a few easy crochet stitches with you before you take her class. And please don’t forget to sign up for her class here.

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